So Dark the Night


Crime / Drama / Film-Noir

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 70%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 842


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March 04, 2019 at 03:54 AM


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23.976 fps
1hr 11 min
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1hr 11 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Spikeopath 7 / 10

Le Cheval Noir.

So Dark the Night is directed by Joseph H. Lewis and written by Dwight V. Babcock, Martin Berkeley and Aubrey Wisberg. It stars Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel, Eugene Borden, Ann Codee and Egon Brecher. Music is by Hugo Friedhofer and cinematography by Burnett Guffey.

Henri Cassin (Geray) is a well regarded Parisian detective who while on a much earned vacation falls in love with innkeeper's daughter Nanette Michaud. However, with Nanette already having a boyfriend, and a tempestuous one at that, true love does not run smooth, especially when murder enters the fray and Cassin has to start investigating the tricky case.

It all begins so perky, with jolly music, smiling faces and brightly lighted compositions, so much so I had actually thought I had loaded the wrong film to watch! Once Henri Cassin arrives at Le Cheval Noir (The Black Horse) in the rural town of St. Margot, however, the whole tone of the film shifts into darker territory. The apple cart is well and truly turned upside down and various character traits start to come into play - with the various main players suddenly becoming an interesting bunch. Enter hunchbacked man, jealous guy, love sick chamber maid, weak parents et al...

Joseph Lewis (My Name Is Julia Ross - Gun Crazy - The Big Combo) does a top job in recreating a French town with what no doubt was a small budget, yet his greatest strengths here are his visual ticks, in how he manages to fill the picture with the requisite psychological discord that craftily haunts the edges of the frames until they be ready for maximum impact. In partnership with ace photographer Guffey, Lewis brings tilted angles and black shadowy shadings to this French hot- bed of lust and character disintegration. He also has a nifty bent for filming scenes through windows and bars, while his filming of a rippled water reflection cast onto a character's face is as significant a metaphor as can be. Also note scenes involving a rocking chair, a dripping tap and a deft window splice sequence that signifies that the psychological walls are tumbling down.

Something of a rare picture given that who the director is, this definitely is of interest to the film noir loving crowd. The finale will not surprise too many, but it doesn't cop out by soft soaping the topic to hand. It also serves to show that the great Joseph H. Lewis could make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 7/10

Now available as part of the Columbia Film Noir Classics IV Collection.

Reviewed by Mike-764 8 / 10

Noir on the French Countryside

The famous French detective Henri Cassin takes his first vacation in 11 years in St. Margot where he meets Nanette, the daughter of the vacation spot proprietors. Despite Nanette being promised to childhood sweetheart Leon, Henri and Nanette fall in love and decide to marry, despite Nanette's father objecting due to Henri's age. On the day of their wedding, Leon returns and Nanette runs after him. Nothing is heard of the two until both are found dead, and Henri swears he won't rest until he can find the killer. The only clue Henri has to work with is a footprint found by Leon, but he is also getting written warnings that others will die soon. Soon Nanette's mother is found dead and Henri has no idea as to the identity of the killer. Thinking himself a failure he returns to Paris, then he realizes (and fears) that the killer can be only one person, even though none of his colleagues can believe his explanation. Out of the ordinary murder mystery that doesn't really follow the formula in other of the genre by Columbia or other B studios. Credit to that certainly goes to director Lewis who does manage to turn this into a noirish film despite the setting of the film, also aided by the use of good camera-work and lighting. Geray turns in a very good performance in probably his only lead and the rest of the cast is able to carry their performance. Rating, 8.

Reviewed by romanorum1 5 / 10

Suspense in the French Countryside

Famed middle-aged Parisian detective Henri Cassin (Steven Geray) takes his first vacation in eleven years. He needs it badly. While Henri is relaxing at a small village inn known as The Black Horse (Le Cheval Noir), he meets the innkeepers' daughter, Nanette (Micheline Cheirel), who is thrilled to make the acquaintance of such a famous person.

Before long Henri and Nanette fall in love. A complication is that Nanette is supposed to be betrothed to a local farmer, Leon, a jealous man (Paul Marion). Although Nanette is much younger than Henri, the two become engaged as Nanette is excited to be moving to the glamor of Paris. Although her mother strongly approves of the relationship, the father deeply objects and favors Leon. Leon becomes more vocal and threatens Henri; then the bodies begin to pile up. First a hunchback sees Nanette found dead in a river (strangled). Then the hunchback finds the main suspect, Leon, deceased in a shed. Shortly after, the body of Nanette's mother is discovered in the kitchen. The only clues are a footprint and notes written by the killer. So the detective has more work instead of a vacation, and tries to obtain some help from Paris. Before the end there will be another casualty. Although the culprit's name is not provided in this review, note that the suspect list is rather short and the psychological ending is a little surprising.

The photography and mood are fine, although the budget is very low. The unknown French cast is about average, while the script is a little weak. Actress Micheline Cheirel appears far too old for her part as Nanette while the stars are not particularly appealing. This is a "B" movie all the way.

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